LAHORE - The government has neither any record nor mechanism to check the dual nationality of its officials.

Senior lawyer AK Dogar cited Citizenship Act of 1951 Section 14 as saying: “No dual nationality holder could be an office-bearer and if he was so, he should renounce it. The situation changes if the federal government thought there was no problem in having dual citizenship of countries like the Common Wealth etc.”  The Supreme Court last week sought the lists of dual national judges and civil servants within a fortnight (15 days).

Under Right to Information Act-2013, a citizen Tariq Khursheed approached the S&GAD office a couple of years ago to seek details of the dual national officials in Punjab, prompting the secretary to contact other departments for submitting the required information.

But the departments said they did not have any information on dual nationality of their officials. The federal establishment also demanded officials serving in Punjab submit affidavits that they were not dual nationals, but no one bothered to provide this info.

The federal government had forwarded a circular to the chief secretaries directing them to provide information of those officers having dual nationality and details of their foreign visits. Moreover, information about their children studying abroad was also sought. Despite sending reminders to all the government departments, nothing was revealed.

Surprisingly, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah says govt has no mechanism of acquiring such information. However, he constituted a committee comprising secretaries to look into the matter .

The Punjab Assembly passed a resolution in 2012 demanding all public servants to file affidavits that they do not hold dual nationality. It also sought giving a deadline to dual nationals to renounce their foreign nationality.  Forensic Science Agency DG Ashraf Tahir reported to have American nationality is holding the key post. Similarly,  former Indus waters commissioner Syed Jammat Ali Shah is also a dual national. Many other bureaucrats and technocrats in different ministries were also reportedly holding dual nationalities, but they are not providing the required information to the government.

Reportedly, 2,474 officials from grade 1 to 8 married to foreign women. Also, after the Supreme Court ruling to remove the dual national lawmakers from the post, a campaign was started to amend the Civil Servants Act 1973 to bar the officials having dual nationality.  The PPP-led government too kicked off a campaign to bring constitutional amendment to save dual national parliamentarians and sought recommendations from provinces on a draft bill in 2013. The Punjab government had constituted a cabinet sub-committee under the law minister to prepare recommendations for the federal government over the matter.  An opposition member said on the condition of anonymity, the government had broke its promise of ousting such officials. A secretary said such officials hid the fact. He claimed many LDA officials are either Canadian or Australian nationals but they are still on job.

In its September 2012 judgment, the Supreme Court ruled that dual nationals could not be trusted on matters of significant implications, he recalled and confirmed that a good number of officials were dual nationals serving in Punjab’s other departments.

A committee reportedly recommended that talented officers would be better than capital foreign investment, therefore, the govt should utilise their services. The government should not discourage civil servants possessing dual nationality, it observed.

After court notice, the Punjab government circulated directives among the departments to seek details.  However, an official questioned as to why would a dual national official sign his ‘death warrant’ by disclosing this. He said the court should direct the state to collect information of the officers who frequently visit other countries.  The Pakistan government may send names of such officers to other countries to confirm their citizenship, he suggested.  A senior politician said the present political setup does not want to displease civil and military babus holding dual nationalities.